Learn about the symptoms, causes, and treatment for the terrible triad
The terrible triad is another name for the unhappy triad or O’Donaghue’s triad and refers to a knee injury in which someone tears or rips their ACL, meniscus, and MCL. The combination of these three injuries, hence triad, completes the terrible triad since it is considered quite terrible to have all of these injuries occur at the same time.
Terrible Triad Cause
Normally forceful pushing of the knee normally during contact sports or other physical activities causes the terrible triad. The most common direct cause of the terrible triad is when your weight and feet (or foot) is planted in one place and then your knee is struck and pushed to the side. This impact usually causes the ACL and meniscus to tear almost instantaneously. After that happens, the knee is unstable and less protected. As the knee normally continues to move from the impact, without the protection from the ACL and meniscus, the inner MCL ligament then tears. The terrible triad can happen other ways as well but this is the most common cause.
Terrible Triad Symptoms
For people who in fact have the terrible triad of injuries with either partial or complete tears of their meniscus, ACL, and MCL, symptoms can be quite severe and normally show up immediately and worsen over time. The most common symptoms of the terrible triad are:
- Swelling and bruising of the entire knee
- Lack of full range of motion in the knee
- Moderate to severe pain and discomfort
- Popping or clicking sound at the time of injury
- Locking or stiffening of the knee joint
- Feeling that the knee is wobbly or unstable